Weather report from heaven: Sunny and bright with an abundance of light, and lots of singing and rejoicing.
Scripture- “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”- Matthew 23:23
Insight: I heard a great message the other day about living ‘off-script.” It was a message about getting outside of your comfort zone, challenging the status quo, thinking independently of some formulaic equation for how you should live your life. In this case, the man speaking shared a powerful story about what that had meant in his life. In his case it meant adopting a special needs Orphan from a Romanian Orphanage after his own two children were in College and he was enjoying smooth sailing in his middle life career. It was something way outside of his plan or his comfort zone, but the end result of his off-script decision was life changing. You see, the man shared how this experience validated for him how much worth each person has. He shared how this little orphan boy with Muscular Dystrophy, whom the Romanian Orphanage had told him not to take, that he had no value, had become a teacher to so many through his unconditional love and how this boy had changed an entire high school through his life. He had become a leader of a basketball team even though he couldn’t even run or jump, simply through his sign language message of greeting each person he met with an “ I love you “ before anyone had even known him or expected it. Soon, the entire high school was using sign language to share the message of “I love you” to their fellow students and staff members. An entire culture changed because of a guy’s courageous decision to go “off-script” and because of one boy’s message of unconditional love. You see, when the orphanage told the man not to take this boy, that he had no worth, they were missing the big picture of how God works and how “the least of these” can be used by Him to miraculously change the world. God assigns great worth to every life, and sometimes He is just waiting for someone to take a leap of faith and live “off-script” in order to bring a miracle into our situation and our lives.
I was thinking after listening to the story if I had ever really gone “off-script” in my life and gotten way outside my comfort zone, and as I began to recall a few of those moments, I was struck by remembering how exciting those times were. Life really seems to come alive when we reach for something that is unscripted or spontaneous, or outside our comfort zone. It is unique to our individual stories, and so it will look different for each of us. But one thing it will have in common is it involves getting way outside our comfort zone. When my family and I decided to financially support four children we had never met before through a charity in Mexico, to provide for them to go to school, and to stay out of an Orphanage, it felt like we were blessed so much more than they were. When they wrote to us and our kids, to thank us and to let us know what their dreams were, it was so powerful. When I stood for my principles against the popular thought processes of the moment that caused me personal pain, or when I became a Christian when all of my “friends”said that I was crazy, I felt alive! When I challenge the status quo of how I look at life, not looking at life as some linear path on the way to retirement, but enjoying each moment as if the freedom of retirement were already a reality and not something to aspire to later in life when you are too old, weak or sick to enjoy it anyway. For me, retirement is a fallacy of a false mindset that says you have to live your life a certain way. I say enjoy all you can while you’re young, and then spend your latter years investing in the opportunities the Lord puts before you to keep your mind sharp and give your life meaning and purpose every day. I have heard and seen too many people who worked their entire life to get to “retirement,” only to find each day was a monotonous slog to simply get to 5 o’clock so they could start drinking again. How awful is that?
Jesus lived his entire life “off-script” and challenged the status quo. He challenged the Religious Leaders of his day for their hypocrisy and he always found time to associate with those whom they or “the world” looked down upon. He dined with tax collectors, and he forgave the adulterous woman and prostitutes. He met the Samaritan Woman at the well in the middle of the day, against all odds and customs, so he could show her how valuable she was when she felt like she had no value at all. Jesus was the great redeemer who came to set the captives free from their sin. He challenged the authority of those who had lorded their worldly authority over others. He talked about the coming of God’s Kingdom when “many who are first will be last, and the last first.”- Mark 10:31 In the Old Testament, God often used the “least of these” or the ones who seemed least likely to be used to accomplish great things. From Gideon to Moses, from David to Joseph, from Rahab to Esther, God always used the ones who said yes to Him, even when their circumstances screamed “who me? No way.” God loves it when we live off-script and step out in faith. Our lives take on significance as we rely more on Him and less on our comfort zones. What will that look like for you? We are all one courageous decision away from our destiny, just like the man who dared to go to Romania and adopt a special needs Orphaned Child who people said had no worth, but whom God said had infinite worth.
Prayer: Father God, thank you that you are an all powerful God who lives to show us what you can do when we go “off-script” and get outside our comfort zones, relying solely on you. Give us the courage to chase our dreams, however crazy they may seem in the world’s eyes. We pray in Jesus’ mighty name Amen!